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goldrushmiel
Feb 14, 2024
In General Discussion
Honey bees and Valentine's Day may not seem like an obvious combination, but there is actually an interesting connection between the two. Honey bees play a crucial role in pollinating many of the flowers that we associate with Valentine's Day, such as roses, tulips, and daisies. Pollination is the process by which bees transfer pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts, allowing the flower to produce seeds and fruit. This process is essential for the reproduction of many plants, including those that produce the beautiful flowers we often give as gifts on Valentine's Day. Honey bees are known as one of the most important pollinators because they are highly efficient at collecting pollen and nectar from flowers. They have specialized body parts, such as their long proboscis (tongue) and hairy bodies, that help them gather and transport pollen from one flower to another. Without honey bees and other pollinators, many of the flowers we associate with Valentine's Day would not exist. In fact, bees are responsible for pollinating around 70% of the world's crop species, including many fruits and vegetables. So next time you give or receive a bouquet of flowers on Valentine's Day, remember to thank the honey bees for their important role in making those beautiful blooms possible!
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goldrushmiel
Jan 25, 2023
In General Discussion
By Malcolm Prior BBC News Rural Affairs team The UK government has again given emergency authorization for the use of a type of pesticide banned because of the harm it can cause bees. Permission to use a neonicotinoid on sugar beet seeds has been given to protect the crop from a particularly damaging virus spread by aphids. The authorization was given against the advice of an independent panel of pesticide experts. Campaign group Friends of the Earth labelled the move "incredibly brazen". But Michael Sly, chairman of the NFU Sugar board, welcomed the decision, saying he was "relieved". "The British sugar beet crop continues to be threatened by virus yellows disease, which in recent years has caused crop losses of up to 80%. The home-grown sugar industry is working hard to find viable, long-term solutions to this disease," he said. The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said strict conditions would be in place and the pesticide - a seed treatment called thiamethoxam - could only be used if independent modelling predicted a yellows virus incidence of 63% or above. If that threshold is met and the pesticide used, other conditions will minimise risks to the environment, it said. The overall ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides remains in place. Farming Minister Mark Spencer said the emergency authorisation was taken after "careful consideration" and as "a necessary measure to protect the industry". The decision was informed by advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the independent UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) and Defra's own Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Gideon Henderson. However, the ECP did not support the authorisation, saying: "In light of the risk assessment conducted, a reduction in survival of honey bees and impacts on homing flight ability (which also influences survival of foragers) could occur." The HSE also said the risks posed to bees foraging on the pollen and nectar from flowering crops planted in fields after treated sugar beet posed "a potential concern". But Professor Henderson said that could be dealt with by insisting on a 32-month minimum period before a flowering crop could be planted. In his advice, he also said: "There is clear and abundant evidence that these neonicotinoids are harmful to species other than those they are intended to control, and particularly to pollinators, including bees." In granting authorisation, the Minister conceded that there was still "a degree of uncertainty in relation to the risks to bees." Despite the pesticide normally not being approved for use, this is the third year the government has given emergency authorisation. Sandra Bell, of Friends of the Earth, described the decision as "incredibly brazen", adding: "The government has gone directly against the advice of its own scientific advisors with potentially devastating consequences for bees and other vital pollinators. "The health of us all and the planet depends on their survival. The government must fulfil its duty to protect wildlife and keep pesticides off our crops for good." The UK's decision comes just days after the Court of Justice of the European Union said that EU member states could no longer offer exemptions to the bloc's ban on crop seeds treated with neonicotinoids
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goldrushmiel
Jan 22, 2023
In General Discussion
A University of the Sunshine Coast researcher is investigating whether spider and scorpion venoms have the potential to save Australia's honeybees from the invasive and deadly varroa mite parasite. Hundreds of hives have been destroyed, and Queensland, Victoria and South Australia have banned bees, hives and honey products from New South Wales in a bid to contain an outbreak of the Varroa destructor mite, detected for the first time in Australia at several properties in New South Wales. "Despite the grim outlook, I think it is not all lost yet, if we act swift and hard," says UniSC Associate Professor Volker Herzig, who is researching environmentally friendly treatments for honeybee pests, such as the varroa mite and small hive beetles. "Now, halfway into my project, and after screening over 240 arachnid venoms against varroa mites, we have four lead molecules that we are currently characterizing to identify the best possible candidate," he said. "Unfortunately, these will take several more years to develop, so they can't be applied to control the present outbreak in New South Wales." Associate Professor Herzig said Australia was previously the only country to escape the Varroa destructor, a parasitic mite species that causes negative impacts on the honeybee health and eventually results in colony collapse. "So far, no country to which Varroa destructor has spread previously has been able to successfully eradicate them," he said. Associate Professor Herzig doubts whether current eradication, surveillance zone and buffer zones reach far enough. "It just takes a single breach of the current exclusion zones, in combination with beehives being transported across Australia for pollination services, and we will soon end up with an uncontrollable spread of the varroa mites," he said. As a precautionary measure, he recommends immediately prohibiting any movement of beehives within Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. "Once the mites have spread to any of the feral honeybee colonies, there will be no means of monitoring or controlling their further spread anymore, which would make eradication practically impossible," he said. "I am aware that such hard measures will cause a significant economic hit to the bee industry, but that it would only be for a limited time." "In contrast, the associated economic impact would pale in comparison to the many millions of dollars it will cost the Australian bee-industry annually once the mites have become endemic, because then there will be no going back." Provided by University of the Sunshine Coast
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goldrushmiel
Jan 22, 2023
In General Discussion
A virus found in parasitic varroa mites attacking honey bees may turn out to be an unlikely ally in fighting another crippling bee disease, deformed wing virus (DWV). Entomologist Dr. Antoine Felden is studying how the recently discovered virus in the varroa mites may lessen the effects of DWV, which affects the bees' ability to fly and leads to their early demise. Varroa mites carry many viruses, including the debilitating DWV, says Dr. Felden, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for Biodiversity and Restoration Ecology at Te Kura Mātauranga Koiora—School of Biological Sciences. He's recently discovered an interesting, and seemingly unlikely, relationship between DMV and another virus, which he thinks may be the key to suppressing DWV. "When there are high loads of the varroa-destructor virus (VDV-2) in varroa mites, then DWV levels are lower in both varroa and the bees they parasitize," Dr. Felden says. What he still has to work out is whether it's the high levels of VDV-2 that cause low viral loads of DWV, or vice-versa. The relationship between the varroa mite and the two viruses is complex, but may be vitally important for understanding bee colony losses, he says. Varroa and DWV are now the leading causes of honey bee colony loss in New Zealand and around the world. In winter 2021, varroa was responsible for the loss of 5.3% of bee colonies, according to estimates from the Ministry for Primary Industries. That's up from 1.6% in 2017. Dr. Felden hopes to secure funding to continue his work on the link between the two viruses. "We need to look at the genetic variation and loads of VDV-2 in varroa to test whether DWV viral loads are associated with specific VDV-2 variants. Preliminary work suggests there are up to eight variants in New Zealand." Working with a team of scientists and students, Dr. Felden plans to "manipulate" VDV-2 loads in the varroa mites and examine the flow-on effects on DWV viral loads in both the mites and parasitized honey bees. "By injecting the VDV-2 virus into varroa, we can confirm the association between the two viruses and test whether VDV-2 infections in the mites can limit deformed wing virus-associated mortality in bees." The research has the potential to significantly improve the prospects of honey bee colonies and reduce hive loss. The group's work will also have broader implications for honey-bee resilience and for understanding emerging diseases and threats to the bees, Dr. Felden says. Provided by Victoria University of Wellington
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goldrushmiel
Jan 19, 2023
In General Discussion
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goldrushmiel
Jan 19, 2023
In General Discussion
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goldrushmiel
Jan 19, 2023
In General Discussion
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